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By Thos. J. Wise 27 


Type-facsimile of 


^ >■ 


Shelley's early interest in Ireland — State of Ireland during period in which 
his visit fell, (i) political, (2) social— His jnethods and aims — His 
failure — His success. 

During the series of trials for treason-felony endured by the 
editor of the Nation in '48— '49, so persistent and ingenious did 
the prosecution show itself in its efforts to obtain a verdict, that 
a legal critic is reported to have remarked that at last every 
disputed question in criminal law was being decided and set at 
rest — at the expense of Mr. Duffy. The history of Mr. Duffy's 
country presents a curious parallel to this episode in his own. 
Ireland has had to meet oppression in almost every possible 
form, and has met it in almost every possible way. And 
Ireland's martyrdom has been England's education. Ireland's 
sufferings and resistance have forced political problems 
generally debated in vacuo upon the attention of practical 
statesmen, and compelled practical maxims of English govern- 
ment to show their foundation in reason and justice, or perish. 

For Shelley the reformer, a visit to Ireland, the classic land 
of the struggle for freedom and justice, was a very natural event. 
How early his interest may have been awakened in Irish affairs it 
is hard to say for certain. In his Posthumous Fragments of Mai'- \ 
garet Nicholson, published while he was at Oxford in November, 
1810, we find allusions to the Banshee and certain other 
commonplaces of Irish legend. St. frz'yne (January 181 1) 
bears testimony to his love of the Irish melodies, then being 
popularised by Moore. In the following March we find his 
name in the Oxford Iferald as a contributor of one guinea to a 
fund started by that newspaper for the benefit of Mr. Peter 
Finnerty, an Irish journalist, who had been sentenced to 


eighteen months' imprisonment for having written, in the 
Morning Chronicle^ a public letter to Lord Castlereagh, 
denouncing that Minister for his share in the cruelties practised 
upon the Irish people in '98. About the same time Shelley 
pubHshed on Mr. Finnerty's behalf a poem now lost, entitled 
A Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things — a poem the 
proceeds of which, if we can trust the positive statement of a 
contemporary Dublin newspaper sent by Shelley to Godwin, 
and unearthed some years ago by Mr. D. F. McCarthy, 
amounted to ** nearly a hundred pounds." ^ 

But a much more important Irishman than Mr. Finnerty also 
aroused Shelley's enthusiasm, as indeed that of many a young 
heart since. This was Robert Emmet, the hero of the insur- 
rection of 1803 — an insurrection trivial and even despicable for 
what it actually effected at the time, but memorable as the first 
protest of Irish nationality against the Act of Union. That it 
accomplished little, beyond exhibiting (and this principally to 
those who were behind the scenes) the elements with which 
something might be accomplished later on, is hardly to be 
wondered at. Emmet was no organizer, and Ireland at the 
time was gagged, bound, and saignee a blanc. But it had one 
important result, in making Emmet's aims and his pure heroic 
character known to his countrymen ; and the defeated rebel's 
speech from the dock has had no small influence on Irish 
history. When Shelley first began to take an interest in Emmet 
is uncertain : certain it is, however, that he wrote, probably in 
Dublin, a poem on Emmet's Grave ; ^ and that Hogg found in 
Shelley's lodgings, in October, 181 2, a broadsheet containing 
Emmet's speech, with a portrait of the speaker. 

Robert Emmet's insurrection was a purely nationalist move- 
ment. But it was no such movement that Shelley found in 
progress when he visited Ireland in 181 2. The political 

^ This was the Mr. Finnerty alluded to in Shelley's Address. The 
fullest information, relevant and irrelevant, about this gentleman, will be 
found in Mr. Denis Florence McCarthy's Early Life of Shelley. That 
work, and Prof. Dowden's Life of Shelley ^ have been my sources for the 
documents quoted in this Introduction. 

2 This poem has been discovered by Prof. Dowden, who gives two 
stanzas from it in his Life of Shelley (i., 268). It is alluded to in a letter 
to Miss Kitchener, written shortly after Shelley's departure from Dublin. 


energies of the people were absorbed in the struggle for Catholic. 
Emancipation, then passing under the leadership of O'Connell. 

It is not necessary to enter in detail into the system of 
government which throughout the eighteenth century made 
Ireland a vast penal settlement. It is enough to say that 
men living in 181 2 could remember an utterance from the Irish 
Bench (1758), in which it was declared that "the laws did not 
presume a Catholic to exist in the kingdom, nor could they 
breathe without the connivance of government." Less than a 
century before Shelley's visit it had been sought to secure the 
expiration of the Catholic priesthood in Ireland by a Bill 
decreeing for all unregistered priests thereafter found in the 
realm the punishment of a shocking mutilation.^ 

With the first year of the independent Irish Parliament things 
began to improve for the Catholics. In the words of Charles 
Greville, "the great thaw of the intolerant and proscriptive 
policy had now begun." That thaw ended with the great 
concession made to Catholics in 1793, the last until their final 
Emancipation in 1829. In Shelley's time the laws relating to 
Irish Catholics who were in a much better position, at least 
theoretically, than their English co-religionists, were by no 
means oppressive. They had been admitted to the magistracy, 
to the franchise, to all lay corporations except Trinity College, 
to the grand and petty juries, and to naval and military rank. 
They could hold land by lease, educate their children, practise 
in the learned professions, and meet for worship according to 
the rites of their Church. But they still lived under the shadow 
of reproach, suspicion, and disdain ; they could be magistrates, 
but they were not selected ; they could be jurors, but they 
were not summoned, nor could they be either High- or 
Sub-Sheriffs; Parliament had opened the corporations to 
them, but had not prevented the corporations from passing 
by-laws to exclude them. By their exclusion from Parlia- 
ment they were robbed of the important right of challenging 

^ This Bill was recommended to the English Government in 1719, by 
the Irish Privy Council, including the Lord-Lieutenant (Duke of Bolton), 
the Secretary, and two Bishops of the Established Church. The special 
clause in question was struck out by the English Ministry, without whose 
consent, under Poyning's Act, no Irish Bill could pass. 


the administration upon individual cases of oppression and 
injustice ; and the silence thus imposed upon them, the stigma 
thus cast upon them, rendered practically worthless (so they 
argued) many of the formal concessions which they had already 

At the time of the Union, Pitt and his Irish alter ego, Lord 
Castlereagh, were openly favourable to the Catholic claims. It 
was notorious that but for the well-founded expectation of the 
Catholics that they would be at once admitted to the Imperial 
Parliament, the passing of the Act of Union would have been a 
far more difficult and dangerous, if not an impossible, under- 
taking. And it is probable enough that but for George III.'s insane 
obstinacy a measure of Catholic Emancipation might have been 
carried almost simultaneously with the Act of Union ; but 
bigotry was unabashed and vigorous, and the modern jealousy of 
the direct influence of the Crown in politics, though intense 
where it existed, was anything but universal. Pitt honourably 
strove to overcome the King's opposition : failing in one serious 
efifort, he is hardly to be blamed for refusing to enter upon a 
desperate constitutional struggle at a time when the revolutionary 
forces in England seemed so dangerously strong, and when the 
aspect of foreign affairs was so threatening. Yet at Pitt's death 
a golden opportunity passed away for ever. For more than a 
quarter of a century no Minister was found who both could 
and would carry Catholic Emancipation through both Houses. 
And the Minister who did finally carry it adopted the measure 
simply as a lesser evil than insurrection, and accompanied it 
with circumstances of injustice and insult. 

The Catholics, of course, were not prepared to accept Pitt's 
decision as the last word on the subject. But their movement 
had to be conducted under great difficulties. Special Acts, 
such as the Insurrection Act and the Conventions Act, placed 
obstacles in the way of association for any political purpose, 
and gave vast arbitrary powers to persons mostly hostile to the 
Catholic cause. An association for the purpose of pressing the 
CathoHc claims had of course existed before the Union, but 
its organization was broken up in the convulsion of '98, and 
did not begin to be knit together again till 1805. In that year 


a petition for relief from their disabilities was framed by the 
Irish Catholics, and presented in the Commons by Charles 
James Fox, in the Lords by Lord Grenville. The motion for 
appointing a committee on the subject was rejected in the Upper 
and Lower Houses by majorities of 129 and 212 respectively. 
Then a disastrous step was taken. A new petition was prepared 
in 1808, in which, on behalf of the Irish bishops and with the 
sanction of their agents, the offer was made ^ that, if Emancipa- 
tion were conceded, the Crown should possess a right of veto in 
the election of Catholic bishops in Ireland. This not being 
thought a sufficient quid pro quo, the petition was promptly 
rejected, and the Catholic prelates began to feel that their 
eagerness for Emancipation had led them into a surrender of 
essential Hberties of their Church. Two hostile parties were 
formed in the Catholic camp, the Vetoists and the Antivetoists,^ 
whose animosity, though sometimes repressed in the face of 
the common enemy, was violent enough to do immense injury 
to their cause. 

In i8to, 1811, and 18 12 (January) the question was again 
before Parliament in the form of motions to appoint committees 
on the subject. They were rejected by decisive though no 
longer crushing majorities. The Catholic cause appeared to 
be making way, though unsteadily, and the number of eminent 
men such as Castlereagh, Canning, Lord Wellesley, and others, 
who declared themselves favourable to the measure in principle, 
if opposed to its introduction at this or that particular moment, 
gave promise of a complete and easy victory when the right 

1 This proposal had been mooted in 1793 ; and in 1799, according to 
Lord Castlereagh, had been ''formally and explicitly proposed to His 
Majesty's Ministers by the Roman Catholics themselves." (Speech on 
March 3, 1813.) The opposition to it arose first among the middle-class 
laity, who preferred to wait for Emancipation rather than place their 
Church under English control. Many of the higher clergy at first 
supported the veto, but were forced by the more patriotic attitude of the 
people to head the movement against it. 

^ The Vetoists were represented in Parliament by Grattan, who identified 
himself closely with their proposal. The Antivetoists were supported by 
Sir H. Parnell, afterwards Lord Congleton (great-uncle of the present 
leader of the Irish party). In Ireland, the Catholic aristocracy finally took 
the former side, the clergy, traders, and peasantry, under Daniel O'Connell, 
the latter. 


moment should arrive. It seemed to have arrived in February, 
1812, when the Regent, who had previously declared himself 
favourable to the Catholic claims, entered upon full regal 
power, and all possibility that the King might again take upon 
himself the genuine authority he had been wont to wield, and 
undo disastrously what his son had begun, was at an end. The 
events which immediately followed, and which determined for 
long the positions of the two great English parties, are well- 
known. Ministerial rank was offered to Grenville and Grey, 
but under impossible conditions, and they refused it. At 
the death of Perceval the Liberals again got their chance, and 
this time a fair chance, of power. But they quarrelled over 
the appointments, and that twenty years' frost of Tory Govern- 
ment^ remained unbroken. There was indeed a deceptive 
appearance that in Ireland a thaw like that of 1793 was about 
to set in. In June, 181 2, Canning carried by a majority of 129 
a resolution binding the House to take into its most serious con- 
sideration the laws affecting the Roman Catholics. A similar 
motion in the Lords was only lost by one vote. A Bill for 
Catholic Emancipation passed its second reading in the House 
of Commons in May, 1813, by a majority of 43. But while 
the measure was going through its various stages. Catholic 
opinion grew so violently hostile to certain clauses intro- 
duced by Canning, which vested the right of veto in a 
Commission of lay Catholic peers named by the Crown, that 
in Committee the Speaker (Mr. Abbott), carried, by a majority 
of 4, an amendment to omit from the Bill that vital 
clause which opened Parliament to the Catholics. The 
measure was immediately abandoned by its supporters, Grattan 
declaring his intention of introducing it again at the next 

This terrible blow, however, shattered the Catholic organiza- 

1 1807— 1827. 

2 Mr. Abbott quoted opinions of the Catholic clergy upon the Bill with 
much effect : "Dr. Troy, the titular Archbishop of Dublin, has declared 
that it contains provisions worse than the old veto. There is an Apostolic 
Vicar of the See of Rome, Dr. Milner, in this kingdom, the accredited 
agent for the Roman Catholics ; what does he say to it ? Why, that all 
good Catholics should sooner lay down their lives than agree to it" 
(May 24). 


tion. The Vetoists who had reckoned upon the passing 
of the Bill and upon its ultimate acceptance by the Church 
— Grattan coolly saying that if the episcopacy did not agree 
to the Commission, the episcopacy must expire — attacked 
the party of unconditional Emancipation with great vehemence. 
The Catholic Board,^ torn with dissensions, ceased to be 
a national centre of control and counsel, and the peasantry 
lapsed into disorder and reckless crime. Then the Board 
— all that remained of it after many secessions — was sup- 
pressed by law, the Insurrection Act, which had been repealed 
in 181 1, was renewed (1814), and so hopeless and so dis- 
credited had the Catholic cause become, that in one year 
from the date when it had all but touched victory, Grattan 
refused even to renew the contest. 

How turbulent and dangerous was the sea on which 
Shelley embarked when he entered Irish politics, and how 
little he could know of its currents and sunken rocks, 
will be plain enough, even from the foregoing very brief 
statement of the events which closely preceded and followed 
his visit. But Catholic Emancipation was not the only 
cause which he meant to assist in Ireland. The first public 
meeting in favour of Repeal of the Union had been held 
in 1 810. Shelley thought this object much more of a 
good in itself than Emancipation, which latter he regarded as 
more important for what it betokened than for what it could 
practically effect. But whether mere Repeal without Emanci- 
pation and without giving the Irish legislature a responsible 
executive could have materially benefited Ireland is very doubt- 
ful. Landlords in 18 12 were rapacious and unjust, but in 1785 
the Attorney-General for Ireland had complained that they 
were grinding their unhappy tenants to powder. Absenteeism 
had probably increased since the Union, but it had been the 
subject of many fruitless complaints in the Irish Parliament. 
The national debt of Ireland had quadrupled, but its rate 

^ The body which conducted the agitation vice the Catholic Committee, 
suppressed in accordance with the Conventions Act, shortly before Shelley's 
visit in 1812. The Conventions Act forbade political assemblies in Ireland 
of a delegated or representative character. It was repealed in 1879. 


of increase in the decade immediately preceding the Union 
had been much more startHng.^ It might however be fairly 
argued that even an exclusively Protestant Irish Parliament 
must not only be better informed, but also in the long run 
more amenable to Irish public opinion, than the Imperial 
Parliament could possibly be. And the manner in which 
Ireland was governed during the period in which Shelley's visit 
fell, was such as to make almost any change seem desirable. 
The true representatives of English rule, the irot/xci/cs Xawv, 
were comprised in that single class which not only monopolized 
the Parliamentary representation, but directly governed the 
country, in one capacity as landlords, in another as local taxing 
bodies (grand jurors), and in a third as magistrates. Of the 
character of this governing class during the period with which 
we are dealing there exists what must be supposed a faithful 
account in a charge delivered to the grand jury of the County 
Wexford in 1814,2 by a judge of assizes, Baron Fletcher, once 
a Prosecutor for the Crown, and a man who had abundant 
opportunities for informing himself as to the state of social 
order, and the administration of justice, in every part of Ireland. 
As this valuable historical document is now easily obtainable, it 
will be enough to say here that Judge Fletcher, with an indigna- 
tion which such causes did not often arouse on the Irish 
Bench, charges the disorder which existed in the country on the 
shameless extortions of the landlords ; on corrupt and fraudulent 
grand jurors, who for the improvement of their private proper- 
ties, and for the endowment of their relations with sinecures, 
heaped mountains of taxation on the peasantry ; and on an 
unjust, cruel, even mu7'derous magistracy. He had known cases, 
he declared, in which the immense arbitrary powers committed 
to it by the Coercion Acts of the day had been used to procure 
the death of persons on whose lives depended leases which it 

1 It is, however, only the figures of the last two or three years of inde- 
pendence that make the growth of the national debt before the Union 
seem abnormally rapid. And the expenditure of these years was owing to 
the Rebellion, and to the corrupt means employed to pass the Union — both 
properly chargeable to the English executive rather than to the Irish 
legislature. The debt of 1800 was almost double that of 1799. 

'^ Lately published as a pamphlet by the Irish Press Agency, with an 
Introduction by Mr. J. J. Clancy, M.P. 


was desirable to terminate. Again and again had viceroys like 
Fitzwilliam, and judges like Fox, endeavoured to cope with 
this sordid tyranny ; and again and again England had doggedly 
put them down. The English garrison in Ireland worked its 
will under the shelter of a perpetual unwritten Act of Indemnity. 

It now remains to tell as briefly as possibly what Shelley 
meant to do in Ireland, and how he strove to do it. 

On February 12th, 18 12, he, being then between nineteen and 
twenty years of age, with his wife Harriet and her sister Eliza 
Westbrook, reached Dublin, after a journey from some unknown 
spot in the north of Ireland, whither his vessel had been driven 
by a southerly gale. His Address to the Irish People was 
already written. It contained, he wrote to Godwin before his 
departure,^ "the benevolent and tolerant deductions of 
philosophy reduced into the simplest language, and such as 
those who by their uneducated poverty are most susceptible of 
evil impressions from Catholicism may clearly comprehend." 
It was meant to reach the masses — he at one time thought of 
having it printed on broadsheets *' as Paine's works were, and 
posted on the walls of Dublin." 2 "I have wilfully vulgarized 
the language," he wrote to Godwin, ^ << in order to reduce the 
remarks it contains to the taste and comprehension of the Irish 
peasantry" — a most unfortunate endeavour, for Shelley could 
not be Cobbett, and only succeeded in robbing his natural 
style of much of its harmony and felicity. It was pubHshed 
on February 24th, and although Shelley wrote a couple of days 
later ^ that it had ** excited a sensation of wonder in Dublin," 
it seems to have had absolutely no success. Shelley's methods of 
getting his pamphlet into circulation were certainly likely 
enough to excite sensations of wonder, and perhaps, too, of 
ridicule, in those to whom apostolic ardour and faith are 
ridiculous. No bookseller would dare to publish it — so 
he wrote to a friend some months afterwards^ — and an 
Irish servant was employed to distribute it by hand, while he 

^ January 28th, 181 2. 

2 To Miss Kitchener, January 26th, l8i2. 

^ February 24th, 181 2. 

* To Miss Kitchener, February 27th. 

' To Thomas Kookham, August i8th, 181 2. 


himself stood in the balcony of his lodgings, (No. 7, Lower 
Sackville St.,) watching the stream of passers : when a man 
" who looked likely " ^ appeared among the crowd of common- 
place figures, a copy of the gospel of philosophy descended 
at his feet. ** We throw them out of window," wrote Harriet 
to Miss Hitchener, " and give them to men that we pass in 
the streets. For myself I am ready to die of laughter when it 
is done, and Percy looks so grave. Yesterday he put one into 
a woman's hood of a cloak ; she knew nothing of it and we 
passed her. I could hardly get on, my muscles were so 

But Shelley did not trust to his pen alone. He spoke at an 
important general meeting of the friends of Catholic Emancipa- 
tion on February 28th, and spoke on the whole with success, 
although certain references to the Catholic religion were received 
by his audience with strong signs of disapproval. A few days 
later his second Irish pamphlet. Proposals for an Association of 
Philanthropists^ was published, and we find him in connection 
with one Mr. Lawless, a well-known member of the Catholic 
Board, meditating the establishment of a newspaper, and 
preparing some chapters for a popular History of Ireland.^ 

All this stir and energy made itself felt. Shelley had many 
visitors, observed and weighed many minds, and studied Irish 
opinion by private intercourse as well as in journals and 
meetings. The results were deeply disappointing to him. 
One class was "bigoted," another lost in petty party aims, another 
blankly apathetic. Only among *' the remnant of the United 
Irishmen " did he find spirits who seemed capable of being 
anything but merely " oppositionist or ministerial." ^ With 
men who were, or were to be, eminent, he had little communi- 
cation. Godwin had introduced him to Curran, but from the 
old lawyer he got nothing but invitations to dinner and 
bon mots. He had spoken on the same platform with O'Connell, 
but O'Connell, when questioned on the subject by McCarthy, 
had no recollection whatever of Shelley or his doings. 

^ February 27th, in Shelley's last quoted letter to Miss Hitchener. 
- Lawless's Competidium of Irish History. Shelley's intended contribu- 
tions never appeared in print, however, and ha"ve disappeared. 
^ Letter to Miss Hitchener, February 27th. 


He had come to Ireland, be it observed, not mainly to 
help in emancipating the Catholics or in repealing the Union, 
but to use the moral energies aroused by these minor aims 
for the attainment of a loftier one, for the advance of truth, 
intellectual freedom, justice, benevolence. A people which 
has so far risen above merely selfish and individual feeling as 
to be united in devotion to some great public end, may be led, 
thought Shelley, in the hour of its purifying passion, to embrace 
a greater aim still, the greatest conceivable aim, that inward 
spiritual reform without which all legislative reforms would 
be vain and worthless. In the Ireland of 181 2 the right 
conditions seemed to exist, and to Shelley, who had perfect 
faith in his mission and confidence in his methods, the call of 
duty was clear. The whole nation was to be organised for 
the pursuit of virtue and light. Associations were to be 
founded which might ultimately spread to England, and 
perhaps farther still. Friends of truth and liberty should join 
them, to encourage and illuminate each other by co-operation 
and discussion, and to oppose a peaceful, constitutional 
resistance to tyrannical governments. 

The idea of association for purposes of " mutual safety and 
mutual indemnification " had been advanced by Shelley a year 
before in a letter to Leigh Hunt, and was doubtless suggested 
to him by the Hunts' late Pyrrhic victories in the law-courts, 
where they had had to pay *' about three hundred pounds for 
being three times found innocent " ^ of seditious libel. The 
principle has of course been since appHed with signal success 
in Irish politics, but clearly it can only be applied for ends 
desired by the persons who are to adopt it. It is therefore not 
surprising that not one of Shelley's Associations ever got itself 
formed. He can hardly be said to have had a gleam of success. 
How could it have been otherwise ? He desired the emancipa- 
tion of Catholics from their legal disabilities, but he avowedly 
desired still more their emancipation from Catholicism, the 
creed for which the nation had fought and suffered for three 
centuries. He desired repeal of the Union, but the passionate 
patriotism of the Irish must have seemed as mere a superstition 
^ Dowden, i. 112. 


to the disciple of Godwin as even their religion. And with the 
*' openness and sincerity " which he declared to his friend Miss 
Kitchener,^ should mark his " course of conduct in Ireland," 
he made no secret of any part of his aims or views. Perhaps 
he had no conception of the intensity of religious feeling there. 
Certain passages of the Catholic petition of 1805,2 which con- 
tradicted some of the accepted opinions of English and Irish 
Protestants about the Catholic faith, may have encouraged him 
to think that Catholicism in Ireland was breaking up. If he 
did think so, it was of course an utter delusion. The odium 
theologicum must have instantly put a stop to his career, if he 
had ever got far enough to excite it. But his Proposals for an 
Association of Philanthropists were not likely to take him even 
so far. Ideas alone may win admirers, but only ideas in union 
with a powerful personality can win disciples. And it is no 
slight upon Shelley to say that he was incapable, at nineteen, 
of inaugurating an epoch-making movement. At no time, 
indeed, does he seem to have possessed that gift without 
which no one can influence masses of men to action — the gift 
of placing himself with imaginative sympathy in the attitude of 
other and otherwise-constituted minds. 

Shelley could not but have been discouraged at the result of 
efforts from which he had hoped so much, but there was yet 
another cause of discouragement. Godwin had condemned 
in the strongest manner his methods of serving their 
common cause in Ireland. The idea of organised associations 
was abhorrent to Godwin, from the " unnatural unanimity " of 

1 Letter of February 14th, 1812. 

2 "Catholics," declared this petition, "reject and detest, as unchristian 
and impious to believe, that it is lawful in any way to injure any person or 
persons whatever, under pretence of their being heretics . . . believe that 
no act, in itself unjust, immoral, or wicked, can ever be justified or excused 
by, or under pretence or colour, that it was done for the good of the Church, 
or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatsoever, and it is not an article 
of the Catholic Faith ; neither are they thereby required to believe or 
profess that the Pope is infallible, or that they are bound to obey any 
order, in its own nature immoral, though the Pope, or any ecclesiastical 
power, should issue or direct any such order, but that on the contrary, they 
hold that it would be sinful in them to pay any respect or obedience 
thereto ; that they do not believe that any sin whatsoever committed by 
them can be forgiven at the mere will of any Pope, or of any Priest, or of 
any person or persons whatsoever." 


opinion they tended to produce. Further, he foresaw that in 
Ireland such associations would soon be transformed into 
so many insurrectionary clubs, and both he and Shelley were 
agreed in absolutely condemning the idea of armed resistance 
to oppression. The refusal of the Irish to associate themselves 
for the pursuit of virtue and the overthrow of the Catholic 
Church was probably easier for Shelley to bear than his 
master's uncompromising hostility to the proposal that they 
should associate themselves at all. " Shelley," he wrote, " you 
are preparing a scene of blood " ; and Shelley, though at first he 
argued strenuously in favour of his cherished project, at last 
yielded, partly to Godwin's insistence, partly to the logic of 
facts. " I have withdrawn from circulation," he wrote to Godwin 
on March i8th, ** the publications wherein I have erred, and 
am preparing to leave Dubhn." His departure, though saddened 
by the sense of failure, was probably not much hastened by it, 
for on January 28th ^ he had spoken of his hope of finding 
"some romantic spot" in Wales wherein to receive Miss 
Hitchener, and perhaps Godwin with his family, in the summer. 
And in the letter to Miss Hitchener written when his pamphlet 
had only been a couple of days before the world, he had 
announced his intention of leaving DubHn ** at the end of 
April." He actually did leave on April 4th, never to see Ire- 
land again except for a brief visit to the south in the spring 
of the following year, — a visit totally devoid of political or 
propagandist motive. 

There is little in the Address to the Irish People that calls 
for further comment or elucidation than has already been 
incidentally given in the course of this Introduction. The 
drift of it is clear enough. Catholic Emancipation is good — 
Repeal of the Union is good — Shelley was not one of those 
Englishmen whose best and sincerest efforts for our welfare are 
tragically marred by the assumption that while anything may 
be done for Ireland, Ireland can be allowed to do nothing for 
herself. But better than Emancipation, better than Repeal, is 
the reform which every man can at once inaugurate in his own 
spirit — the cause of truth, justice, temperance, benevolence, to 
^ To Godwin, from Keswick (Dowden, i. 231). 


which he can give at least one convert. He thought the Irish 
" a noble nation," and according to his lights, which surely 
were not altogether darkness, he laboured ardently for its 
highest interests. His Association of Philanthropists came to 
nothing, but let us not suppose that so much noble effort was 
wholly wasted. Shelley's missionary visit of seven weeks has 
impressed the imagination even of Irishmen who, Hke Mr. 
D. F. McCarthy, differed from him most strongly in some 
important conclusions and objects. Nor is it only men of 
letters who have found something significant and memorable in 
Shelley's Irish journey. The present writer remembers to have 
heard the late Mr. P. J. Smyth win the enthusiastic applause 
of a hostile and turbulent audience by the singularly moving 
eloquence with which he described that brief visit to our 
shores, some seventy years before, of " a youth of marvellous 
genius," the herald of England's better mind. 

T. W. R. 



An Address to the Irish People is a demy octavo 
pamphlet of twenty-four pages, " stabbed," and without 
wrappers ; consisting of Title-page (as given here 
following in exact type-facsimile), with blank reverse, 
pp. i.-ii. ; Text of the Address, pp. 1-20 ; and Postscript, 
pp. 21-22.^ T)\Q Address is dated from ''No. J Lower 
Sackville Street, Feb, 22," and the pamphlet itself 
was published two days later. A full account of 
the genesis of this, one of the most interesting 
pieces of Shelleyian Juvenilia, will be found in Mr. 
Denis Florence Mc-Carthy's Shelley s Early Life 
[London, Hotten, 1872] ; where the most original 
and amusing methods adopted by Shelley for dis- 
tributing his pamphlet, and assuring it as wide a 
circulation as possible, are related in minute detail. 

From all accounts Shelley appears to have had 
his Address complete in manuscript before leaving 
England to embark upon his Irish campaign, and 
almost immediately upon his arrival in Dublin it 
was put to press and produced with the utmost 

* This Postscript is wanting in the copy preserved in the British 


speed. As a natural consequence the pamphlet was 
roughly and coarsely printed, and abounds in typo- 
graphical errors, as a glance at the following list of 
Errata will show. Although nominally published at 
the price of Five-pence it is probable that very few 
copies were actually sold. The brochure has now 
become of extreme scarcity, and but very few 
examples are known to be extant to-day. 


Page 2, line 2, {or feelings xt2A feeling. 

,, 2, ,, 28, iox prefers^ x^zA profess. 

,, 2, ,, 2>^, iox impudently f re2idi impudent. 

,, 4, ,, 14, delete the a at the close of the line. 

,, 5, ,, 3, for merit on me, read merit in me. 

,, 5, ,, 31, delete the w^ before >/^/. 

»» 5» j> 34» for ^^^^ ^'V^*' heard of read were ever heard of 

,, 6, ,, 20, for the full point after contend, read a note of interrogation. 

,, 6, ,, 30, for and, read and. 

,, 7, ,, 23, for the comma Siitex good, read a full point. 

,, 8 ,, 3, insert a full point after dlush. 

,, 8, ,, ^, {or violenee, xQzd violence. 

,, 8, ,, 30, for cooly, read coolly. 

„ 8, ,, 45, for the comma after days, insert a full point. 

,, 9, ,, 41, for /^c'j^^m/^, we should probably read /(?rj-^^«/^. 

,, 9, last line, for others read others\ 

„ 10, ,, 44, delete the note of interrogation after spread. 

,, 10, ,, 47, for so they begin, read do they begin, 

,, 12, ,, 51, delete the comma after M^r^. 

,, 14, „ qS>, {or next impossible, XQ.2A next to impossible. 


Pa<Te 14, line 34, for nnaccnstomed, read unaccustomed. 
H» M 5°» ^°^ ^'^ ^"^ aim, read /j ^wr azw. 
15, ,, \\, iox as so much, read is so much. 
I5> >> I5> fo'^ -^^^ ^^'^'^ the greatest, read //ax ^t^^r the greatest. 
IS» >> 19, insert a comma after /;7'«<rz/>/?j. 
15, ,, 25, delete the who after argu?nents. 
15, ,, 30, for Europe the World, read Europe, World. 
I5> >» 39> for ^'^'^'^ ^'^ discussing, read Ma« ^«<? discussing. 
15, ,, 42, for influence a force, read influence on force. 
I5> >> 50j for /Z*?/^ ^/^Mr shame, read ^/^/;y /w ^'^z^r shame. 

15, last line, for check, read cheek. 
15 ,, ,, delete the i« after ^«r«. 

16, line 8, for the full point after safety, insert a note of interrogation. 
16, ,, 43, for their are none, read there are none. 
16, ,, 44, for that their are, read that there are. 
18, ,, 17, for as to see, read as not to see. 

18, ,, 40, iox ytiu, read you. 

19, ,, 2, for vitiate, read vibrate. 
19, ,, 12, for imcompetent, read incompetent. 
I9> >» I3> insert a space between ///^ and abuses. 
I9j m I7> for inroduction, read introduction. 
19, ,, 18, for millenium, read millennium. 
19, ,, 22, for «/^« read ?^/^«. 
I9> >> 34> ioT philanthrophy, x^zA philanthropy . 
^^Qj >> 36, for i7«f, read one. , 
I9> >> Zli^^"^ P^'''^(''''^th't'ophy,x&2A philanthropy. 
19, last line, for the full point after while^ insert a note of interrogation. 
21, line 1$, ior philanthrophy, read philanthropy. 

21, „ 34, delete the to at the close of the line. 

22, last line, insert *' turned commas " at the end of the paragraph. 

T. J. WISE. 






T^e lomjest possible price is set on tMs publication, because it is the intention of 
the Author to a^waken in the minds of the Irish poor^ a knonvledge of their 
real state, summarily pointing out the e^ils of that state, and suggesting 
rational means of remedy. — Catholic Emancipation, and a Repeal of the 
Union Act, (the latter, the most successful engine that England e<ver nxjielded 
o'ver the misery of fallen Ireland,^ being treated of in the foUowoing address, 
as grienjances n^hich unanimity and resolution may remo<ve, and associations 
conducted <with peaceable firmness, being earnestly recommended, as means 
for embodying that unanimity and firmness^ luhick must finally be successful. 







Fellow Men, 
I am not an Irishman, yet I can feel for you. I hope there are none 
among you who will read this address with prejudice or levity, because it 
is made by an Englishman, indeed, I believe there are not. The Irish are 
a brave nation. They have a heart of liberty in their breasts, but they are 
much mistaken if they fancy that a stranger cannot have as warm a one. 
Those are my brothers and my countrymen, who are unfortunate. I should 
like to know what there is in a man being an Englishman, a Spaniard, or 
a Frenchman, that makes him worse or better than he really is. He was 
born in one town, you in another, but that is no reason why he should not 
feel for you, desire your benefit, or be willing to give you some advice, 
which may make you more capable of knowing your own interest, or acting 
so as to secure it. — There are many Englishmen who cry down the Irish, 
and think it answers their ends to revile all that belongs to Ireland ; but it 
is not because these men are Englishmen that they maintain such opinions, 
but because they wish to get money, and titles, and power. They would act 
in this manner to whatever country they might belong, until mankind is much 
altered for the better, which reform, I hope, will one day be effected. — I 
address you then, as my brothers and my fellow-men, for I should wish to 
see the Irishman who, if England was persecuted as Ireland is, who, if 
France was persecuted as Ireland is, who, if any set of men that helped to 
do a public service were prevented from enjoying its benefits as Irishmen 
are — I should like to see the man, I say, who would see these misfortunes, 
and not attempt to succour the sufferers when he could, just that I might 
tell him that he was no Irishman, but some bastard mongrel bred up in a 
court, or some coward fool who was a democrat to all above him, and an 
aristocrat to all below him. I think there are few true Irishmen who would 
not be ashamed of such a character, still fewer who possess it. I know 
that there are some, not among you my friends, but among your enemies, 
who seeing the title of this piece, will take it up with a sort of hope that 
it may recommend violent measures, and thereby disgrace the cause of 
freedom, that the warmth of an heart desirous that liberty should be 
possessed equally by all, will vent itself in abuse on the enemies of liberty, 
bad men who deserve the contempt of the good, and ought not to excite 

their indignation to the harm of their cause. But these men will be dis- 
appointed — I know the warm feelings of an Irishman sometimes carries 
him beyond the point of prudence. I do not desire to root out, but to mode- 
rate this honorable warmth. This will disappoint the pioneers of oppression 
and they will be sorry, that through this address nothing will occur which 
can be twisted into any other meaning but what is calculated to fill you 
with that moderation which they have not, and make you give them that 
toleration which they refuse to grant to you. — You profess the Roman 
Catholic religion which your fathers professed before you. Whether it is 
the best relio-ion or not, I will not here inquire : all religions are good 
which make men good j and the way that a person ought to prove that his 
method of worshipping God is best, is for himself to be better than all 
/)( other men. But we will consider what your religion was in old times and 
what it is now : you may say it is not a fair way for me to proceed as a 
Protestant, but I am not a Protestant, nor am I a Catholic, therefore 
not being a follower of either of these religions, I am better able to judge 
between them. A Protestant Is my brother, and a Catholic Is my brother, 
I am happy when I can do either of them a service, and no pleasure is so 
great to me than that which I should feel If my advice could make men of 
any professions of faith, wiser, better and happier. 

The Roman Catholics once persecuted the Protestants, the Protestants 
now persecute the Roman Catholics — should we think that one is as bad as 
the other ? No, you are not answerable for the faults of your fathers any 
more than the Protestants are good for the goodness of their fathers. I 
must judge of people as I see them j the Irish Catholics are badly used. I 
will not endeavour to hide from them their wretchedness ; they would think 
that I mocked at them if I should make the attempt. The Irish Catholics 
now demand for themselves, and profers for others unlimited toleration, 
and the sensible part among them, which I am willing to think constitutes 
a very large portion of their body, know that the gates of Heaven are 
Hopen to people of every religion, provided they are good. But the Pro- 
testants, although they may think so in their hearts, which certainly, if 
they think at all they must seem to act as if they thought that God was better 
pleased with them than with you, they trust the reins of earthly government 
only to the hands of their own sect ,- In spite of this, I never found one 
of them Impudently enough to say that a Roman Catholic, or a Quaker, or 
a Jew, or a Mahometan, if he was a virtuous man, and did all the good in 
his power, would go to Heaven a bit the slower for not subscribing to the 
jfthirty-nine articles — and if he should say so, how ridiculous In a foppish 
courtier not six feet high to direct the spirit of universal harmony, in what 
manner to conduct the affairs of the universe ! 

The Protestants say that there was a time when the Roman Catholics 
burnt and murdered people of different sentiments, and that their religious 
tenets are now as they were then. This is all very true. You certainly 
worship God in the same way that you did when those barbarities took 
place, but is that any reason that you should now be barbarous. There is 
as much reason to suppose it, as to suppose that because a man's great- 
grandfather, who was a Jew, had been hung for sheep-stealing, that I, by- 
believing the same religion as he did, must certainly commit the same crime. 
Let us then see what the Roman Catholic religion has been. — No one knows 
much of the early times of the Christian religion, until about three hundred 
years after Its beginning, two great churches called the Roman and the 
Greek churches divided the opinions of men. They fought for a very long 
time, a great many words were wasted and a great deal of blood shed.. 

This as you may suppose did no good. Each party however, thought 
they were doing God a service, and that he would reward them. If they 
had looked an inch before their noses they might have found that fighting 
and killing men, and cursing them and hating them, was the very worst 
A way for getting into favor with a Being who Is allowed by all to be best 
^ pleased with deeds of love and charity. At last, however, these two 
Religions entirely separated, and the Popes reigned like Kings and Bishops 
at Rome, in Italy. The inquisition was set up, and in the course of one 
year thirty thousand people were burnt in Italy and Spain, for entertaining 
different opinions from those of the Pope and the Priests. There was an 
instance of shocking barbarity which the Roman Catholic Clergy committed 
in France by order of the Pope. The bigotted Monks of that country, in 
cold blood, in one night massacred 80,000 Protestants j this was done 
under the authority of the Pope, and there was only one Roman Catholic 
Bishop who had virtue enough to refuse to help. The vices of Monks and 
Nuns in their Convents were in those times shameful, people thought that 
they might commit any sin, however monstrous, if they had money 
enough to prevail upon the Priests to absolve them j in truth, at that time 
the Priests shamefully imposed upon the people, they got all the power into 
their own hands, they persuaded them that a man could not be entrusted 
with the care of his own soul, and by cunningly obtaining possession of 
their secrets, they became more powerful than Kings, Princes, Dukes, 
Lords, or Ministers : this power made them bad men ; for although rational 
people are very good in their natural state, there are now, and ever have 
been very few whose good dispositions despotic power does not destroy. I 
have now given a fair description of what your religion was ; and Irishmen 
my brothers ! will you make your friend appear a liar, when he takes 
upon himself to say for you, that you are not now what the professors of 
the same faith were in times of yore. Do I speak false when I say that 
^ the inquisition is the object of your hatred ? Am I a liar if I assert that 
an Irishman prizes liberty dearly, that he will preserve that right, and 
if he be wrong, does not dream that money given to a Priest, or the 
talking of another man erring like himself, can in the least influence 
the judgement of the eternal God ? — I am not a liar if I affirm in 
your name, that you believe a Protestant equally with yourself to be 
worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven, if he be equally virtuous, that you will 
treat men as brethren wherever you may find them, and that difference of 
opinion in religious matters, shall not, does not in the least on your part, 
obstruct the most perfect harmony on every other subject. — Ah ! no, Irish- 
men, I am not a liar. I seek your confidence, not that I may betray it, 
but that I may teach you to be happy, and wise, and good. If you will 
not repose any trust in me I shall lament, but I will do every thing in my 
power that is honorable, fair, and open, to gain it. Some teach 
you that others are heretics, that you alone are right ,• some teach that 
rectitude consists in religious opinions, without which no morality is good, 
some will tell you that you ought to divulge your secrets to one particular set 
of men 5 beware my friends how you trust those who speak in this way. 
They will, I doubt not, attempt to rescue you from your present miserable 
state, but they will prepare a worse. It will be out of the frying-pan into 
the fire. Your present oppressors it is true, will then oppress you no 
longer, but you will feel the lash of a master a thousand times more 
blood-thirsty and cruel. Evil designing men will spring up who will 

t prevent your thinking as you please, will burn you if you do not think as 

The Monks and the Priests of old were very bad men ; take care no such 
abuse your confidence again. You are not blind to your present situation, 
you are villainously treated, you are badly used. That this slavery shall 
cease, I will venture to prophesy. Your enemies dare not to persecute 
you longer, the spirit of Ireland is bent, but it is not broken, and that I 
they very well know. But I wish your views to embrace a wider scene, 
I wish you to think for your children and your children's children ; to 
take great care (for it all rests with you) that whilst one tyranny is destroyed 
another more fierce and terrible does not spring up. Take care then of 
smooth-faced impostors, who talk indeed of freedom, but who will cheat 
you into slavery. Can there be worse slavery than the depending for the safety 
of your soul on the will of another man ? Is one man more favored than another 
by God. No, certainly, they are all favored according to the good they 
do, and not according to the rank and profession they hold. God values a 
a poor man as much as a Priest, and has given him a soul as much to 
himself j the worship that a kind Being must love, is that of a simple 
affectionate heart, that shews its piety in good works, and not in ceremonies, 
or confessions, or burials, or processions, or wonders. Take care then, 
that you are not led away. Doubt every thing that leads you not to 
charity, and think of the word " heretic " as a word which some selfish 
knave invented for the ruin and misery of the world, to answer his own 
paltry and narrow ambition. Do not inquire if a man be a heretic, if he 
be a Quaker, or a Jew, or a Heathen ; but if he be a virtuous man, if 
he loves liberty and truth, if he wish the happiness and peace of human i 
kind. If a man be ever so much a believer and love not these things, he is 
a heartless hypocrite, a rascal, and a knave. Despise and hate him, as ye 
despise a tyrant and a villain. Oh ! Ireland, thou emerald of the ocean, 
whose sons are generous and brave, whose daughters are honorable, and 
frank, and fair ; thou art the isle on whose green shores I have desired to 
see the standard of liberty erected, a flag of fire, a beacon at which the 
world shall light the torch of Freedom ! 

We will now examine the Protestant Religion. Its origin is called the 
if Reformation. It was undertaken by some bigotted men, who showed how 
little they understood the spirit of Reform, by burning each other. You 
will observe that these men burnt each other, indeed they universally be- 
trayed a taste for destroying, and vied with the chiefs of the Roman 
Catholic Religion, in not only hating their enemies, but those men, who 
least of all were their enemies, or any body's enemies. Now, do the 
Protestants, or do they not hold the same tenets as they did when Calvin 
burnt Servetus, they swear that they do. We can have no better proof. 
Then with what face can the Protestants object to Catholic Emancipation, 
on the plea that Catholics once were barbarous ,• when their own establish- 
ment is liable to the very same objections, on the very same grounds ? I 
think this is a specimen of bare-faced intoleration, which I had hoped 
would not have disgraced this age j this age, which is called the age of 
reason, of thought diffused, of virtue acknowledged, and its principles 
fixed. — Oh ! that it may be so, — I have mentioned the Catholic and Pro- 
testant Religions more to shew that any objection to the toleration of the 
one forcibly applies to the non-permission of the other, or rather to shew 
that there is no reason why both might not be tolerated, why every Religion, 
every form of thinking might not be tolerated. — But why do I speak of 
toleration ? This word seems to mean that there is some merit in the person 
who tolerates, he has this merit if it be one, of refraining to do an evil 
act, but he will share the merit with every other peaceable person who 

pursues his own business, and does not hinder another of his rights. It 
is not a merit to tolerate, but it is a crime to be intolerant : it is not a 
merit on me that I sat quietly at home without murdering any one, but it 
is a crime if I do so. Besides no act of a National representation 
can make any thing wrong, which was not wrong before ; it cannot change 
virtue and truth, and for a very plain reason } because they are unchange- 
able. An act passed in the British Parliament to take away the rights < 
of Catholics to act in that assembly, does not really take them away. It 
prevents them from doing it by force. This is in such cases, the last and 
only efficacious way. But force is not the test of truth ; they will ne- 
ver have recourse to violence who acknowledge no other rule of behaviour 
but virtue and justice. 

The folly of persecuting men for their religion will appear if we exa- 
mine it. Why do we persecute them ? to make them believe as we do. Can I 
any thing be more barbarous or foolish. — For although we may make them I 
say they believe as we do, they will not in their hearts do any such thing, i 
indeed they cannot, this develish method can only make them false hypo- ( 
crites. For what is belief? We cannot believe just what we like, but ' 
only what we think to be true ; for you cannot alter a man's opinion by » 
beating or burning, but by persuading him that what you think is right, ' 
and this can only be done by fair words and reason. It is ridiculous to 
call a man a heretic, because he thinks differently from you, he might as 
well call you one. In the same sense, the word orthodox is used, it sig- 
nifies " to think rightly " and what can be more vain and presumptuous iii 
any man or any set of men, to put themselves so out of the ordinary course 
of things as to say — " What we think is right, no other people throughout 
the world have opinions any thing like equal to ours.'"' Any thing short of 
unlimited toleration, and complete charity with all men, on which you 
will recollect that Jesus Christ principally insisted, is wrong, and for this 
reason — what makes a man to be a good man ? not his religion, or else 
there could be no good rrien in any religion but one, when we yet we find 
that all ages, countries, and opinions have produced them. Virtue and 
wisdom always so far as they went produced liberty or happiness long be- 
fore any of the religions now in the world have ever heard of. The only t 
use of a religion that ever I could see, is to make men wiser or better, so far , 
as it does this, it is a good one. Now if people are good, and yet have 
sentiments differing from you, then all the purposes are answered, which 
any reasonable man could want, and whether he thinks like you or not, 
is of too little consequence to employ means which must be disgusting and 
hateful to candid minds, nay they cannot approve of such means. For as 
I have before said you cannot believe or disbelieve what you like — perhaps 
some of you may doubt this, but just try — I will take a common and fa- 
miliar instance. Suppose you have a friend of whom you wish to think 
well, he commits a crime, which proves to you that he is a bad man. It 
is very painful to you to think ill of him, and you would still think well 
of him if you could. But mark the word, you cmmot think well of him, ' 
not even to secure your own peace of mind can you do so. You try, but 
your attempts are vain. This shews how little power a man has over his be- I 
lief, or rather, that he cannot believe what he does not think true. And 
what shall we think now ? What fools and tyrants must not those men » 
be, who set up a particular religion, say that this religion alone is right, 
and that every one who disbelieves it, ought to be deprived of certain rights 
which arc really his, and which would be allowed him if he believed. 
Certainly, if you cannot help disbelief, it is not any fault in you. — To take 


away a man's rights and privileges, to call him a heretic or to think 
worse of him, when at the same time you cannot help owning that he has 
committed no fault, is the grossest tyranny and intoleration. From what 
has been said I think we may be justified in concluding, that people of all re- 
ligions ought to have an equal share in the state, that the words heretic and 
orthodox were invented by a vain villain, and have done a great deal of 
harm in the world, and that no person is answerable for his belief whose ac- < 
tions are virtuous and moral, that the religion is best whose members are 
the best men, and that no person can help either his belief or disbelief. — j 
Be in charity with all men. It does not therefore, signify what your 
Religion was^ or what the Protestant Religion was, we must consider 
them as we find them. What are they now f Yours is not intolerant, 
indeed my friends I have ventured to pledge myself for you that it is not. 
You merely desire to go to Heaven, in your own way, nor will you 
interrupt fellow travellers, although the road which you take may not be 
that which they take. Believe me, that goodness of heart and purity of 
life are tUngs of more value in the eye of the Spirit of Goodness, than 
idle earthly ceremonies, and things which have any thing but charity for 
their object. And is it for the first or the last of these things that you or 
the Protestants contend. It is for the last. Prejudiced people indeed, are 
they who grudge to the happiness and comfort of your souls, things which 
can do harm to no one. They are not compelled to share in these rites. 
Irishmen j knowledge is more extended than in the early period of your 
religion, people have learned to think, and the more thought there is in the 
world, the more happiness and liberty will there be: — men begin now to 
think less of idle ceremonies, and more of realities. From a long night 
have they risen, and they can perceive its darkness. I know no men of 
thought and learning who do not consider the Catholic idea of purgatory, ' 
much nearer the truth than the Protestant one of eternal damnation. Can 
you think that the Mahometans aud the Indians, who have done good 
deeds in this life, will not be rewarded in the next. The Protestants believe 
that they will be eternally damned — at least they swear that they do. — I 
think they appear in a better light as perjurers, than believers in a falsehood 
so hateful and uncharitable as this. — I propose unlimited toleration, or 
rather the destruction, both of toleration and intoleration. The act permits 
certain people to worship God after such a manner, which, in fact, if not 
done, would as far as in it lay prevent God from hearing their address. 
Can we conceive any thing more presumptuous, and at the same time more 
ridiculous, than a set of men granting a license to God to receive the 
prayers of certain of his creatures. Oh Irishmen ! I am interested in 
your cause j and it is not because you are Irishmen or Roman Catholics, 
that I feel with you and feel for you ; but because you are men and 
sufferers. Were Ireland at this moment, peopled with Brahmins, this very 
same address would have been suggested by the same state of mind. You 
have suffered not merely for your religion, but some other causes which I 
am equally desirous of remedying. The Union of England with Ireland 
has withdrawn the Protestant aristocracy, and gentry from their native 
country, and with these their friends and connections. Their resources are 
taken from this country, although they are dissipated in another ; the very 
poor people are most infamously oppressed by the weight of burden which the 
superior ranks lay upon their shoulders. I am no less desirous of the 
reform of these evils (with many others) than for the Catholic Emancipation. 
Perhaps you all agree with me on both these subjects, we now come to the 
method of doing these things. .1 agree with the Quakers so far as they 

disclaim violence, and trust their cause wholly and solely to its own truth. — 
If you are convinced of the truth of your cause, trust wholly to its truth j 
if you are not convinced, give it up. In no case employ violence, the way \ 
to liberty and happiness is never to transgress the rules of virtue and justice. / 
Liberty and happiness are founded upon virtue and justice, if you destroy the 
one, you destroy the other. However ill others may act, this will be no 
excuse for you if you follow their example ; it ought rather to warn you 
from pursuing so bad a method. Depend upon it, Irishmen, your cause 
shall not be neglected. I will fondly hope, that the schemes for your happi- 
ness and liberty, as well as those for the happiness and liberty of the world, 
will not be wholly fruitless. One secure method of defeating them is vio- 
lence on the side of the injured party. If you can descend to use the same 
weapons as your enemy, you put yourself on a level with him on this score, 
you must be convinced that he is en these grounds your superior. But appeal 
to the sacred principles of virtue and justice, then how is he awed into no- 
thing ? how does truth shew him in his real colours, and place the cause of 
toleration and reform in the clearest light. I extend my view not only to you 
as Irishmen, but to all of every persuasion, of every country. Be calm, mild, 
deliberate, patient ; recollect that you can in no measure more effectually for- 
ward the cause of reform than by employing your leisure time in reasoning, or 
the cultivation of your minds. Think and talk, and discuss. The only sub- 
jects you ought to propose , are those of happiness and liberty. Be free and be 
happy, but first be wise and good. For you are notTairwise or good, You are 
a great and a brave nation, but you cannot yet be all wise or good. You may 
be at some time, and then Ireland will be an earthly Paradise. You know 
what is meant by a mob, it is an assembly of people who without foresight 
or thought, collect themselves to disapprove of by force any measure which 
they dislike. An assembly like this can never do any thing but harm, tu- 
multuous proceedings must retard the period when thought and coolness 
will produce freedom and happiness, and that to the very people who make 
the mob, but if a number of human beings, after thinking of their own 
interests, meet together for any conversation on them, and employ resist- 
ance of the mind, not resistance of the body, these people are going the 
right way to work. But let no fiery passions carry them beyond this 
point, let them consider that in some sense, the whole welfare of their 
countrymen depends on their prudence, and that it becomes them to guard 
the welfare of others as their own. Associations for purposes of violence, 
are entitled to the strongest disapprobation of the real reformist. Always 
suspect that some knavish rascal is at the bottom of things of this kind, 
waiting to profit by the confusion. All secret associations are also bad. 
Are you men of deep designs, whose deeds love darkness better than light j 
dare you not say what you think before any man, can you not meet in the 
open face of day in conscious innocence ? Oh, Irishmen ye can. Hidden 
arras, secret meetings and designs, violently to separate England from Ire- 
land, are all very bad. I do not mean to say the very end of them is bad, 
the object you have in view may be just enough, whilst the way you go 
about it is wrong, may be calculated to produce an opposite effect. Never 
do evil that good may come, always think of others as well as yourself, and 
cautiously look how your conduct may do good or evil, when you yourself 
shall be mouldering in the grave. Be fair, open, and you will be terrible to 
^our enemies. A friend cannot defend you, much as he may feel for your 
sufferings, if you have recourse to methods of which virtue and justice dis- 
ajjprove. No cause is in itself so dear to liberty as yours. Much depends on 


you, far may your efforts spread, either hope or despair j do not then 
cover in darkness wrongs at which the face of day, and the tyrants who 
bask in its warmth ought to blush Wherever has violence succeeded. 
The French Revolution, although undertaken with the best intentions, 
ended ill for the people ; because violence was employed, the cause which 
they vindicated was that of truth, but they gave it the appearance of a lie, 
by using methods which will suit the purposes of liars as well as their 
own. Speak boldly and daringly what you think j an Irishman was never 
accused of cowardice, do not let it be thought possible that he is a coward. 
Let him say what he thinks, a lie is the basest and meanest employment 
of men, leave lies and secrets to courtiers and lordlings ; be open, sincere, 
and single hearted. Let it be seen that the Irish votaries of Freedom dare 
to speak what they think, let them resist oppression, not by force of arms, 
but by power of mind, and reliance on truth and justice. Will any be 
arraigned for libel — will imprisonment or death be the consequences of this 
mode of proceeding : probably not — but if it were so ? Is danger frightful 
to an Irishman who speaks for his own liberty, and the liberty of his wife 
and children : — No, he will steadily persevere, and sooner shall pensioners 
cease to vote with their benefactors, than an Irishman swerve from 
the path of duty. But steadily persevere in the system above laid 
down, its benefits will speedily be manifested. Persecution may destroy 
some, but cannot destroy all, or nearly all ; let it do its will, ye have 
appealed to truth and justice — shew the goodness of your religion by 
persisting in a reliance on these things, which must be the rules even of 
the Almighty's conduct. But before this can be done with any effect, 
habits of SOBRIETY, REGULARITY, and THOUGHT, must be 
entered into, and firmly resolved upon. 

My warm-hearted friends, who meet together to talk of the distresses 
of your countrymen, until social chat induces you to drink rather freely j 
as ye have felt passionately, so reason cooly. Nothing hasty can be 
lasting ; lay up the money with which you usually purchase drunkenness 
and ill-health, to relieve the pains of your fellow-sufferers. Let your 
children lisp of Freedom in the cradle — let your death-bed be the school 
for fresh exertions — let every street of the city, and field of the country, 
be connected with thoughts, which liberty has made holy. Be warm in 
your cause, yet rational, and charitable, and tolerant — never let the 
oppressor grind you into justifying his conduct by imitating his meanness. 

Many circumstances, I will own, may excuse what is called rebellion, 
but no circumstances can ever make it good for your cause, and however 
honourable to your feelings, it will reflect no credit on your judgments. It 
will bind you more closely to the block of the oppressor, and your children's 
children, whilst they talk of your exploits, will feel that you have done them 
injury, instead of benefit. 

A crisis is now arriving, which shall decide your fate. The king of 
Great Britain has arrived at the evening of his days, He has objected to 
your emancipation 5 he has been inimical to you ; but he will in a certain 
time be no more. The present Prince of Wales will then be king. It is 
said that he has promised to restore you to freedom : your real and natural 
right will, in that case, be no longer kept from you. I hope he has pledged 
himself to this act of justice, because there will then exist some obligation 
to bind him to do right. Kings are but too apt to think little as they 
should do : they think every thing in the world is made for them ; when the 
truth is, that it is only the vices of men that make such people necessary, 
and they have no other right of being ki 

The benefit of the governed is the origin and meaning of government. The 
Prince of Wales has had every opportunity of knowing how he ought to act 
about Ireland and liberty. That great and good man, Charles Fox, who was 
your friend, and the friend of freedom, was the friend of the Prince of 
Wales. He never flattered or disguised his sentiments, but spoke them 
openly on every occasion, and the Prince was the better for his instructive 
conversation. He saw the truth, and he believed it. Now I know not what 
to say j his staff is gone, and he leans upon a broken reed ; his pre- 
sent advisers are not like Charles Fox, they do not plan for liberty and 
safety, not for the happiness but for the glory of their country ; and what. 
Irishmen, is the glory of a country divided from their happiness ? it is a 
false light hung out by the enemies of freedom to lure the unthinking into 
their net. Men like these surround the Prince, and whether or no he has 
really promised to emancipate you, whether or no he will consider the pro- 
mise of a Prince of Wales binding to a King of England, is yet a matter 
of doubt. We cannot at least be quite certain of it : on this you cannot 
certainly rely. But there are men who, wherever they find a tendency to 

(freedom, go there to increase, support, and regulate that tendency. These 
men who join to a rational disdain of danger, a practice of speaking the 
truth, and defending the cause of the oppressed against the oppressor j these 
men see what is right and will pursue it. On such as these you may safely 
rely ; they love you as they love their brothers j they feel for the unfortunate, 
and never ask whether a man is an Englishman or an Irishman, a catholic, 
a heretic, a christian, or a heathen, before their hearts and their purses are 
opened to feel with their misfortunes and relieve their necessities : such are 
the men who will stand by you for ever. Depend then, not upon the pro- 
mises of Princes, but upon those of virtuous and disinterested men : depend 
not upon force of arms or violence, but upon the force of the ti uth of the 
rights which you have to share equally with others, the benefits and the evils 
ot Government. 

The crisis to which I allude as the period of your emancipation, is not 
the death of the present king, or any circumstance that has to do with kings, 
but something that is much more likely to do you good : it is the increase 
of virtue and wisdom which will lead people to find out that force and op- 
pression is wrong and false : and this opinion, when it once gains ground, 
will prevent government from severity. It will restore those rights which 
government has taken away. Have nothing to do with force or violence, 
and things will safely and surely make their way to the right point. The 
Ministers have now in Parliament a very great majority, and the Ministers 
are against you. They maintain the falsehood that, were you in power 
you would prosecute and burn, on the plea that you once did so. They 
maintain many other things of the same nature. — They command the 
majority of the House of Commons, or rather the part of that assembly, 
who receive pensions from Government, or whose relatives receive them. 
These men of course, are against you, because their employers are. But 
the sense of the country is not against you, the people of England are not 
against you — they feel warmly for you — in some respects they feel with 
you. The sense of the English and of their Governors is opposite — there 
must be an end of this, the goodness of a Government consists in the 
Happiness of the Governed, if the Governed are wretched and dissatisfied, 
the Government has failed in its end. It wants altering and mending. It 
will be mended, and a reform of English Government will produce good 
to the Irish — good to all human kind, excepting those whose happiness 
consists in others sorrows, and it will be a fit j unlshment for these to 


be deprived of their develish joy. This I consider as an event which Is ap- 
proaching, and which will make the beginning of our hopes for that period 
which may spread wisdom and virtue so wide, as to leave no hole in which 
folly or villainy may hide themselves. I wish you, O Irishmen, to be as careful 
and thoughtful of your interests as are your real friends. Do not drink, do 
not play, do not spend any idle time, do not take every thing that other people 
say for granted — there are numbers who will tell you lies to make their own 
fortunes, you cannot more certainly do good to your own cause, than by 
defeating the intentions of these men. Think, read and talk ; let your own 
condition and that of your wives and children, fill your minds ; disclaim all 
manner of alliance with violence, meet together if ye will, but do not meet 
in a mob. If you think and read and talk with a real wish of benefiting the 
cause of truth and liberty, it will soon be seen how true a service you are 
rendering, and how sincere you are in your professions ; but mobs and vio- 
lence must be discarded. The certain degree of civil and religious liberty 
which the usage of the English Constitution allows, is such as the worst of 
men are entitled to, although you have it not ; but that liberty which we may 
one day hope for, wisdom and virtue can alone give you a right to enjoy. 
This wisdom and this virtue I recommend on every account that you should 
instantly begin to practice. Lose not aday, not an hour, not a moment. — Tem- 
perance, sobriety, charity and independence will give you virtue j and read- 
ing, talking, thinking and searching, will give you wisdom; when you have 
those things you may defy the tyrant. It is not going often to chapel, crossing 
yourselves, or confessing, that will make you virtuous j many a rascal has 
attended regularly at Mass, and many a good man has never gone at all. It/) 
is not paying Priests, or believing in what they say that makes a good man, 
but it is doing good actions, or benefiting other people ; this i? the true 
way to be good, and the prayers, and confessions, and masses of him who 
does not these things, are good for nothing at all. Do your work regularly 
and quickly, when you have done, think, read, and talk; do not spend your 
money in idleness and drinking, which so far from doing good to your cause, 
will do it harm. If you have any thing to spare from your wife and children, 
let it do some good to other people, and put them in a way of getting wis- 
dom and virtue, as the pleasure that will come from these good acts, will be 
nmch better than the head-ache that comes from a drinking bout. And never 
quarrel between each other, be all of one mind as nearly as you can ; do 
these things, and I will promise you liberty and happiness. But itj on 
the contrary of these things, you neglect to improve yourselves, continue 
to use the word heretic, and demand from others the toleration which you 
are unwilling to give ; your friends and the friends of liberty will have rea- 
son to lament the death-blow of their hopes. I expect better things from 
you ; it is for yourselves that I fear and hope. Many Englishmen are prejudiced 
against you, they sit by their own fire-sides and certain rumours artfully 
spread ? are ever on the wing against you. But these people who think ill 
of you and of your nation, are often the very men who, it they had better 
information, would feel for you most keenly ^ wherefore are these reports 
spread, how so they begin ? they originate from the warmth of the Irish cha- 
racter, which the friends of the Irish nation have hitherto encouraged rather 
than repressed ; this leads them in those pnoments when their wrongs ap- 
pear so clearly, to commit acts which justly excite displeasure. They begin 
therefore, from yourselves, although falsehood and tyranny artfully magnify 
ind multiply the causes of offence. — Give no offence. 

I will for the present dismiss the subject of the Catholic Emancipation j 
i little reflection will convince you that my remarks are just. Be true to 


yourselves, and your enemies shall not triumph. I fear nothing, if charity 
and sobriety mark your proceedings. Every thing is to be dreaded, 
you yourselves will be unworthy of even a restoration to your rights, if 
yon disgrace the cause, which I hope is that of truth and liberty, by 
violence, if you refuse to others the toleration which you claim for your- 
selves. — But this you will not do. I rely upon it Irishmen, that the 
warmth of your characters will be shewn as much in union with Englishmen 
and what are called heretics, who feel for you, and love you as in avenging 
your wrongs, or forwarding their annihilation. — It is the heart that 
glows and not the cheek. The firmness, sobriety, and consistence of 
your outward behaviour will not at all shew any hardness of heart, but will 
prove that you are determined in your cause, and are going the right way 
to work. — I will repeat that virtue and wisdom are necessary to true 
happiness and liberty. — The Catholic Emancipation I consider, is certain. 
I do not see that any thing but violence and intolerance among yourselves 
can leave an excuse to your enemies for continuing your slavery. The 
other wrongs under which you labor, will probably also soon be done away. 
You will be rendered equal to the people of England in their rights and 
privileges, and will be in all respects, so far as concerns the state, as happy. 
And now Irishmen another, and a more wide prospect opens to my view. 
I cannot avoid, little as it may appear to have any thing to do with your 
present situation, to talk to you on the subject. It intimately concerns 
the well-being of your children, and your children's children, and 
will perhaps, more than any thing prove to you the advantage and 
necessity of being thoughtful, sober, and regular ; of avoiding foolish and 
idle talk, and thinking of yourselves, as of men who are able to be much 
wiser and happier than you now are j for habits like these, will not only 
conduce to the successful putting aside your present and immediate 
grievances, but will contain a seed, which in future times will spring up 
into the tree of liberty, and bear the fruit of happiness. 

There is no doubt but the world is going wrong, or rather that it is 
very capable of being much improved. What I mean by this improvement 
is, the inducement of a more equal and general diffusion of happiness and 
liberty. — Many people are very rich and many are very poor. Which do 
you think are happiest ? — I can tell you that neither are happy, so far as 
their station is concerned. Nature never intended that there should be 
such a thing as a poor man or a rich one. Being put in an unnatural 
situation, they can neither of them be happy, so far as their situation is 
concerned. The poor man is born to obey the rich man, though they both 
come into the world equally helpless, and equally naked. But the poor 
man does the rich no service by obeying him — the rich man does the poor 
no good by commanding him. It would be much better if they could be 
prevailed upon to live equally like brothers — they would ultimately both be 
nappier. But this can be done neither to-day nor to-morrow, much as 
such a change is to be desired, it is quite impossible. Violence and folly 
in this, as in the other case, would only put off the period of its event. 
Mildness, sobriety, and reason, are the effectual methods of forwarding 
the ends of liberty and happiness. 

Although we may see many things put in train, during our life-time, 
we cannot hope to see the work of virtue and reason finished now j we can 
only lay the fo\mdation for our posterity. Government is an evil, it is 
only the thoughtlessness and vices of men that make it a necessary evil. 
When all men are good and wise, Government will of itself decay, so 
long as men continue foolish and vicious, so long will Government, even 


such a Government as that of England, continue necessary In order to prevent 
the crimes of bad men. Society is produced by the wants, Govern- 
ment by the wickedness, and a state of just and happy equality by the 
improvement and reason of man. It is in vain to hope for any liberty and 
happiness, without reason and virtue — for where there is no virtue there 
will be crime, and where there is crime there must be Government. Before 
the restraints of Government are lessened, it is fit that we should lessen 
the necessity for them. Before Government is done away vkh, we must 
reform ourselves. It is this work which I would earnestly i rommend to 
you, O Irishmen, REFORM YOURSELVES— and I do not recommend 
it to you particularly because I think that you most need it, but because 
I think that your hearts are warm and your feelings high, and you will 
perceive the necessity of doing it more than those of a colder and more 
distant nature. 

I look with an eye of hope and pleasure on the present state of things, 
gloomy and incapable of improvement as they may appear to others. It 
delights me to see that men begin to think and to act for the good 
of others. Extensively as folly and selfishness has predominated in 
this age, it gives me hope and pleasure, at least, to see that many know 
what is right. Ignorance and vice commonly go together : he that would 
do good must be wise — a man cannot be truly wise who is not truly 
virtuous. Prudence and wisdom are very different things. The prudent 
man is he, who carefully consults for his own good : the wise man is he 
who carefully consults for the good of others. 

I look upon the Catholic Emancipation, and the restoration of the 
1 liberties and happiness of Ireland, so far as they are compatible with 
the English Constitution, as great and important events. I hope to see 
them soon. But if all ended here, it would give me little pleasure — I 
should still see thousands miserable and wicked, things would still be 
wrong. I regard then, the accomplishment of these things as the road to 
a greater reform — that reform after which virtue and wisdom shall have 
conquered pain and vice. When no Government will be wanted, but 
that of your neighbour's opinion. — I look to these things with hope and 
pleasure, because I consider that they will certainly happen, and because 
men will not then be wicked and miserable. But I do not consider that 
they will or can immediately happen ; their arrival will be gradual, and 
it all depends upon yourselves how soon or how late these great changes 
will happen. If all of you, to-morrow were virtuous and wise, Govern- 
ment which to-day is a safe-guard, would then become a tyranny. But 
I cannot expect a rapid change. Many are obstinate and determined in 
their vice, whose selfishness makes them think only of their own good, 
when in fact, the best way even to bring that about, is to make others 
happy. I do not wish to see things changed now, because it cannot be 
done without violence, and we may assure ourselves that none of us arc 
fit for any change however good, if we condescend to employ force in a 
cause which we think right. Force makes the side that employs it 
directly wrong, and as much as we may pity we cannot approve the 
headstrong and intolerant zeal of its adherents. 
' Can you conceive, O Irishmen ! a happy state of society — conceive men 
\ of every way of thinking living together like brothers. The descendant 
of the greatest Prince would there, be entitled to no more respect than 
the son of a peasant. There would be no pomp and no parade, but that 
I which the rich now keep to themselves, would then be distributed among 
I the people. None would be in magnificence, but the superfluities then 


taken from the rich would be sufficient when spread abroad, to make f 
every one comfortable. — No lover would then be false to his mistress, no ! 
mistress would desert her lover. No friend would play false, no rents, 
no debts, no taxes, no frauds of any kind would disturb the general 
happiness : good as they would be, wise as they would be, they would 
be daily getting better and wiser. No beggars would exist, nor any of ; 
those wretched women, who are now reduced to a state of the most horrible j ^ 
misery and vice, by men whose wealth makes them villainous and hardened, j 
No thieves or murderers, because poverty would never drive men to take ' 
away comforts from another, when he had enough for himself. Vice and 
misery, pomp and poverty, power and obedience, would then be banished 
altogether. — It is for such a state as this, Irishmen, that I exhort you 
to prepare. — " A Camel shall as soon pass through the eye of a needle, 
as a rich man enter the Kingdom of Heaven." This is not be understood 
literally, Jesus Christ appears to me only to have meant that riches, have 
generally the effect of hardening and vitiating the heart, so has poverty. I 
think those people then are very silly, and cannot see one inch beyond their 
noses, who say that human nature is depraved ; when at the same time 
wealth and poverty, those two great sources of crime, fall to the lot of 
a great majority of people j and when they see that people in moderate 
circumstances are always most wise and good. — People say that poverty is 
no evil — they have never felt it, or they would not think so. That wealth 
is necessary to encourage the arts — but are not the arts very inferior things 
to virtue and happiness — the man would be very dead to all generous 
feelings who would rather see pretty pictures and statues, than a million 
free and happy men. 

It will be said, that my design is to make you dissatisfied with your 
present condition, and that I wish to raise a Rebellion. But how stupid 
and sottish must those men be, who think that violence and uneasiness of 
mind have any thing to do with forwarding the views of peace, harmony 
and happiness. They should know that nothing was so well-fitted to 
produce slavery, tyranny, and vice, as the violence which is attributed 
to the friends of liberty, and which the real friends of liberty are the only 
persons who disdain. — As to your being dissatisfied with your present 
condition, any thing that I may say is certainly not likely to increase that 
dissatisfaction. I have advanced nothing concerning your situation, but 
its real case, but what may be proved to be true. I defy any one to point 
out a falsehood that I have uttered in the course of this address. It is 
impossible but the blindest among you must see that every thing is not 
right. This sight has often pressed some of the poorest among you to 
take something from the rich man's store by violence, to relieve his own 
necessities. I cannot justify, but I can pity him. I cannot pity th^ 
fruits of the rich man's intemperance, I suppose some are to be found 
who will justify him. This sight has often brought home to a day-labourer 
the truth which I wish to impress upon you, that all is not right. But 
I do not merely wish, to convice you that our present state is bad, but 
that its alteration for the better, depends on your own exertions and 

But he has never found out the method of mending it, who does not first 
mend his own conduct, and then prevail upon others to refrain from any vicious 
habits which they may have contracted — much less does the poor man suppose 
that wisdom as well as virtue is necessary, and that the employing his 
little time in reading and thinking, is really doing all that he has in his 
power to do towards the state, when pain and vice shall perish altogether. 


I wish to Impress upon your minds, that without virtue or wisdom, there 
can be no liberty or happiness j and that temperance, sobriety, charity, 
and independence of soul, will give you virtue — as thinking, enquiring, 
reading, and talking, will give you wisdom. Without the first, the last 
is of little use, and without the last, the first is a dreadful curse to 
yourselves and others. 

I have told you what I think upon this subject, because I wish to 
produce in your minds an awe and caution necessary, before the happy 
state of which I have spoken can be introduced. This cautious awe, is 
very different from the prudential feai, which leads you to consider yourself 
as the first object, as on the contrary it is full of that warm and ardent 
love for others that burns in your hearts, O Irishmen ! and from which 
I have fondly hoped to light a flame that may illumine and invigorate the 
world ! 

I have said that the rich command, and the poor obey, and that 
money is only a kind of sign, which shews, that according to government 
the rich man has a right to command the poor man, or rather that the 
poor man being urged by having no money to get bread, is forced to work 
for the rich man, which amounts to the same thing. I have said that I 
think all this very wrong, and that I wish the whole business was altered. 
I have also said that we can expect little amendment in our own time, and 
that we must be contented to lay the foundation of liberty and happiness, 
by virtue and wisdom. — This then, shaH be my work : let this be yours, 
Irishmen. Never shall that glory fail, which I am anxious that you 
should deserve. The glory of teaching to a world the first lessons of 
virtue and wisdom. 

Let poor men still continue to work. I do not wish to hide from them 
a knowledge of their relative condition in society, I esteem it next impos- 
sible to do so. Let the work of the labourer, of the artificer — let the 
work of every one, however employed, still be exerted in its accustomed 
way. The public communication of this truth, ought in no manner, to 
impede the established usages of society ; however, it is fitted in the end 
to do them away. For this reason it ought not to impede them, because 
if it did, a violent and unaccustomed, and sudden sensation would take 
place in all ranks of men, which would bring on violence, and destroy the 
possibility of the event of that, which in its own nature must be gradual, 
however rapid, and rational, however warm. It is founded on the reform 
of private men, and without individual amendment it is vain and foolish 
to expect the amendment of a state or government. I would advise them 
therefore, whose feelings this address may have succeeded in affecting, 
(and surely those feelings which charitable and temperate remarks excite, 
can never be violent and intolerant,) if they be, as I hope those whom 
poverty has compelled to class themselves in the lower orders of society, 
that they will as usual attend to their business and the discharge of those 
public or private duties, which custom has ordained. Nothing can be 
more rash and thoughtless, than to shew in ourselves singular instances of 
any particular doctrine, before the general mass of the people are so 
convinced by the reasons of the doctrine, that it will be no longer singular.' 
That reasons as well as feelings, may help the establishment of happiness 
and liberty, on the basis of wisdom and virtue, in our aim and intention. — 
Let us not be led into any means which are unworthy of this end, nor, as 
so much depends upon yourselves, let us cease carefully to watch over our 
conduct, that when we talk of reform it be not objected to us j that reform 
ought to begin at home. In the interval, that public or private duties 


and necessary labors allow, husband your time so, that you may do to 
others ana yoiirselves the most real good. To improve your own 
minds is to join these two views : conversation and reading are the prin- 
cipal and chief methods of awakening the mind to knowledge and goodness. 
Reading or thought, will principally bestow the former of these — the 
benevolent exercise of the powers of the mind in communicating useful 
knowledge, will bestow an habit, of the latter, both united, will contribute 
so far as lays in your individual power to that great reform, which 
will be perfect and finished, the moment every one is virtuous and wise. 
Every folly refuted, every bad habit conquered, every good one confirmed, 
as so much gained in this great and excellent cause. 

To begin to reform the Government, is immediately necessary, however 
good or bad individuals may be ; it is the more necessary if they are 
eminently the latter, in some degree to palliate or do away the cause ; as 
political institution has even the greatest influence on the human character, 
and is that alone which differences the Turk from the Irishman. 

I write now not only with a view for Catholic Emancipation, but for un- 
iversal emancipation j and this emancipation complete and unconditional, 
that shall comprehend every individual of whatever nation or principles 
that shall fold in its embrace all that think and all that feel, the Catholic 
cause is subordinate, and its success preparatory to this great cause, which 
adheres to no sect but society, to no cause but that of universal happiness, 
to no party but the people. I desire Catholic Emancipation, but I desire 
not to stop here, and I hope there are few who having perused the preced- 
ing arguments who will not concur with me in desiring a complete, a lasting 
and a happy amendment. That all steps however good and salutary which 
may be taken, all reforms consistent with the English constitution that 
may be effectuated, can only be subordinate and preparatory to the great 
and lasting one which shall bring about the peace, the harmony, and the 
happiness of Ireland, England, Europe the World. I offer merely an out- 
line of that picture which your own hopes may gift with the colors of rea- 

Government will not allow a peaceable and reasonable discussion of its 
principles by any association of men, who assemble for that express purpose. 
But have not human beings a right to assemble to talk upon what subject they 
please j can any thing be more evident than that as government is only of 
use as it conduces to the happiness of the governed ; those who are governed 
have a right to talk on the eflScacy of the safe guard employed for their ben- 
efit. Can any topic be more interesting or useful, than on discussing how far 
the means of government, is or could be made in a higher degree effectual 
to producing the end. Although I deprecate violence, and the cause which 
depends for its influence a force, yet I can by no means think that assemb- 
ling together merely to talk of how things go on, I can by no means think 
that societies formed for talking on any subject however government may dis- 
like them, come in any way under the head of force or violence. I think that 
associations conducted in the spirit of sobriety, regularity, and thought, are 
one of the best and most efficient of those means which I would recommend 
for the production of happiness, liberty, and virtue. 

Are you slaves, or are you men ? if slaves, then crouch to the rod, and 
lick the feet of your oppressors, glory your shame, it will become 
you if brutes to act according to your nature. But you are men, 
a real man is free, so far as circumstances will permit him. Then 
firmly, yet quietly resist. When one check is struck, turn in the 


other to the insuhing coward. You will be truly brave ; you will resist 
and conquer. The discussion of any subject, is a right that you have 
brought into the world with your heart and tongue. Resign your heart"" s- 
blood, before you part with this inestimable privilege of man. For 
it is fit that the governed should enquire into the proceedings of Govern- 
ment, which is of no use the moment it is conducted on any other 
principle but that of safety. You have much to think of. — Is 
war necessary to your happiness and safety. The interests of the poor 
gain nothing from the wealth or extension of a nation's boundaries, they 
gain nothing from glory, a word that has often served as a cloak to 
the ambition or avarice of Statesmen. The barren victories of Spain, 
gained in behalf of a bigotted and tyrannical Government, are nothing 
to them. The conquests in India, by which England has gained glory 
indeed, but a glory which is not more honourable than that of Buonaparte, 
are nothing to them. The poor purchase this glory and this wealth, at 
the expence of their blood, and labor, and happiness, and virtue. They 
die in battle for this infernal cause. Their labor supplies money and 
food for carrying it into effect, their happiness is destroyed by the 
oppression they undergo, their virtue is rooted out by the depravity and 
vice that prevails throughout the army, and which imder the present 
system, is perfectly unavoidable. Who does not know that the quartering 
of a regiment on any town, will soon destroy the innocence and happiness 
of its inhabitants. The advocates for the happiness and liberty of the 
great mass of the people, who pay for war with their lives and labor, 
ought never to cease writing and speaking until nations see as they mus*- 
feel, the folly of fighting and killing each other in uniform, for nothing 
at all. Ye have much to think of. The state of your representation 
in the house, which is called the collective representation of the country 
demands your attention. 

It is horrible that the lower classes must waste their lives and liberty to 
furnish means for their oppressors to oppress them yet more terribly. It is 
horrible that the poor must give in taxes what would save them and their 
families from hunger and cold ; it is still more horrible that they should do 
this to furnish further means of their own abjectness and misery j but 
what words can express the enormity of the abuse that prevents them from 
choosing representatives with authority to enquire into the manner in 
which their lives and labor, their happiness and innocence is expended, 
and what advantages result from their expenditure which may counterbalance 
so horrible and monstrous an evil. There is an outcry raised against amend- 
ment; it is called innovation and condemned by many unthinking people 
who have a good fire and plenty to eat and drink ; hard hearted or thought- 
less beings how many are famishing whilst you deliberate, how many perish 
to contribute to your pleasures. I hope that their are none such as these 
native Irishmen, indeed I fcarcely believe that their are. 

Let the object of your associations (for I conceal not my approval of as- 
semblies conducted with xt%yX2s\\.-j, peaceableness and thought for any pur- 
pose,) be the amendment of these abuses, it will have for its object universal 
Emancipation, liberty, happiness, and virtue. There is yet another subject, 
" the Liberty of the Press." The liberty of the press consists in a right to 
publish any opinion on any subject which the writer may entertain. The 
^ >|lAttorney General in 1793 on the trial of Mr. Perry, faid, '* I never will 
difpute the right of any man fully to difcuss topics respecting government, 
\ and honestly to point out what he may consider a proper remedy of grievan- 
S res." — The Liberty of the Press, is placed as a sentinel to alarm us when 



any attempt is made on our liberties." — It is this centinel, O Irishmen 
whom I now awaken ! I create to myself a freedom which exists not. 
There is no liberty of the press, for the subjects of British government. 

It is really ridiculous to hear people yet boasting of this inestimable bless- 
ing, when they daily see it successfully muzzled and outraged by thef 
lawyers of the crown, and by virtue of what are called ex-officio informa- 
tions. Blackstone says, that " if a person publishes what is improper, 
mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his own 
temerity j " and Lord Chief Baron Comyns defines libel as " a contumely, 
or reproach, published to the defamation of the Government, of a magistrate, 
or of a private person." — Now, I beseech you to consider the words, 
mischievous, improper, illegal, contumely, reproach, or defamation. May 
they not make that mischievous, or improper, which they please ? Is not 
law with them, as clay in the potter's hand ? Do not the words, contumely, 
reproach, or defamation, express all degrees and forces of disapprobation ? It 
is impossible to express yourself displeased at certain proceedings of Govern- 
ment, or the individuals who conduct it, without uttering a reproach. We 
cannot honestly point out a proper remedy of grievances with safety, 
because the very mention of these grievances will be reproachful to the 
personages who countenance them } and therefore will come under a 
definition of libel. For the persons who thus directly or indirectly undergo 
reproach, will say for their own sakes, that the exposure of their corruption 
is mischievous and improper j therefore, the utterer of the reproach is a 
fit subject for three years imprisonment. Is there any thing like the 
Liberty of the Press, in restrictions so positive, yet pliant, as these. The 
little freedom which we enjoy in this most important point, comes from 
the clemency of our rulers, or their fear, lest public opinion alarmed at 
the discovery of its enslaved state, should violently assert a right to 
extension and diffusion. Yet public opinion may not always be so for- 
midable, rulers may not always be so merciful or so timid : at any rate 
evils, and great evils do result from the present system of intellectual 
slavery, and you have enough to think of, if this grievance alone remained 
in the constitution of society. I will give but one instance of the 
present state of our Press. 

A countryman of yours is now confined in an English gaol. His 
health, his fortune, his spirits, suffer from close confinement. The air 
which comes through the bars of a prison-grate, does not invigorate the 
frame nor cheer the spirits. But Mr. Finnerty, much as he has lost, yet 
retains the fair name of truth and honor. He was imprisoned for persisting 
in the truth. His judge told him on his trial, that truth and falsehood 
were indifferent to the law, and that if he owned the publication 
any consideration, whether the facts that it related were well or ill-founded, 
was totally irrelevant. Such is the libel law. Such the Liberty of the 
Press — there is enough to think of. The right of withholding your 
individual assent to war, the right of choosing delegates to represent you 
in the assembly of the nation, and that of freely opposing intellectual 
power, to any measures of Government of which you may disapprove, are In 
addition to the indifference with which the legislative and the executive 
power ought to rule their conduct towards professors of every religion 
enough to think of. 

I earnestly desire peace and harmony : — peace, that whatever wrongs 
you may have suffered, benevolence and a spirit of forgiveness should mark 
your conduct towards those who have persecuted you. Harmony, that 
among yourselves may be no divisions, that Protestants and Catholics unite 


in a common interest, and that whatever be the belief and principles of 
your countryman and fellow-sufferer, you de5ire to benefit his cause, at 
the same time that you vindicate your own, be strong and unbiassed by 
selfishness or prejudice — for Catholics, your religion has not been spotless, 
crimes in past ages have sullied it with a stain, which let it be your glory 
to remove. Nor Protestants, hath your religion always been characterized 
by the mildness of benevolence, which Jesus Christ recommended. Had 
it any thing to do with the present subject I could account for the spirit 
of intolerance, which marked both religions ; I will, however, only adduce 
the fact, and earnestly exhort you to root out from your own minds every 
thing which may lead to uncharitableness, and to reflect that yourselves, 
as well as your brethren, may be deceived. Nothing on earth is infallible. 
The Priests that pretend to it, are wicked and mischievous impostors j 
but it is an imposture which every one, more or less, assumes, who 
encourages prejudice in his breast against those who differ from him in 
opinion, or who sets up his own religion as the only right and true one, 
when no one is so blind as to see that every religion is right and true, 
which makes men beneficent and sincere. I therefore, earnestly exhort 
both Protestants and Catholics to act in brotherhood and harmony, never 
forgetting, because the Catholics alone are heinously deprived of religious 
rights, that the Protestants and a certain rank of people, of every per-' 
suasion, share with them all else that is terrible galling and intolerable 
in the mass of political grievance. 

In no case employ violence or falsehood. I cannot too often or too 
vividly endeavour to impress upon your minds, that these methods will 
produce nothing but wretchedness and slavery — that they will at the same 
time rivet the fetters, with which ignorance and oppression bind you to 
abjectness, and deliver you over to a tyranny, which shall render you 
incapable of renewed efforts. Violence will immediately render your cause 
a bad one. If you believe in a Providential God, you must also believe 
that he is a good one ; and it is not likely, a merciful God would befriend 
a bad cause. Insincerity is no less hurtful than violence : those who are 
in the habits of either, would do well to reform themselves. A lying 
bravo will never promote the good of his country — he cannot be a good 
man. The courageous and sincere may, at the same time, successfully 
oppose corruption, by uniting their voice with that of others, or individually 
raise up intellectual opposition to counteract the abuses of Government 
and society. In order to benefit yourselves and your country to any 
extent, habits of sobriety, regularity, and thought, are previously so 
necessary, that without these preliminaries, all that yuu have done falls 
to the ground. You have built on sand. Secure a good foundation, and 
you may erect a fabric to stand for ever — the glory and the envy of the 
world ! 

I have purposely avoided any lengthened discussion on those grievances to 
which your hearts are from custom, and the immediate interest of the cir- 
cumstances, probably most alive at present. I have not however wholly ne- 
glected them. Most of all have I insisted on their instant palliation and 
ultimate removal j nor have I omitted a consideration of the means which I 
deem most effectual for the accomplishment of this great end. How far you 
will consider the former worthy of your adoption, so far shall I deem the 
latter probable and interesting to the lovers of human kind. And I have 
opened to your view a new scene — does not your heart bound at the bare 
possibility of your posterity possessing that liberty and happiness of which 


during our lives powerful exertions and habitual abstinence may give us a 
foretaste. Oh ! if your hearts do not vitiate at such as this j then ye are 
dead and cold — ye are not men. 

I now come to the application of my principles, the conclusion of my 
address ; and O Irishmen, whatever conduct ye may feel yourselves bound 
to pursue, the path which duty points to, lies before me clear and unobscured. 
Dangers may lurk around it, but they are not the dangers which lie beneath 
the footsteps of the hypocrite or temporizer. 

For I have not presented to you the picture of happiness on which my 
fancy doats as an uncertain meteor to mislead honorable enthusiasm, or 
blindfold the judgment which makes virtue useful. I have not proposed 
crude schemes, which I should be imcompetent to mature, or desired to 
excite in you any virulence against theabuses of political institution ; where 
I have had occasion to point them out I have recommended moderation 
whilst yet I have earnestly insisted upon energy and perseverance j I have 
spoken of peace, yet declared that resistance is laudable ; but the intellectual 
resistance which I recommend, I deem essential to the inroduction of the 
millenium of virtue, whose period every one can, so far as he Is concerned, 
forward by his own proper power. I have not attempted to shew, that 
the Catholic claims or the claims of the people, to a full representation 
in Parliament, or any of those claims to real rights, which I have Insisted 
upon as Introductory to the ultimate claim of ally to universal happiness, 
freedom, and equality ; I have not attempted, I say, to shew that these 
can be granted consistently with the spirit of the English Constitution : this 
is a point which I do not feel myself inclined to discuss, and which I 
consider foreign to my object. But I have shewn that these claims have 
for their basis, truth and justice, which are Immutable, and which In the 
ruin of Governments shall rise like a Phoenix from their ashes. 

Is anyone inclined to dispute the possibility of a happy change in society? 
Do they say that the nature of man Is corrupt, and that he was made for 
misery and wickedness ? Be it so. Certain as are opposite conclusions, I 
will concede the truth of his, for a moment. — What are the means which I 
take for melioration ? Violence, corruption, rapine, crime ? Do I do 
evil, that good may come ? I have recommended peace, philanthrophy, 
wisdom. — So far as my arguments influence, they will influence to these — 
and if there Is any one nonju inclined to say, that " private vices are 
public benefits," and that peace, philanthrophy, and wisdom, will, if once 
they gain ground, ruin the human race; he may revel in his happy dreams; 
though were / this man, I should envy Satan's Hell. The wisdom and 
charity of which I speak, are the only means which I will countenance, for 
the redress of your grievances, and the grievances of the world. So far 
as they operate, I am willing to stand responsible for their e^il eff^ects. 
I expect to be accused of a desire for renewing in Ireland the scenes of 
revolutionary horror, which marked the struggles of France twenty years 
ago. But it is the renewal of that unfortunate aera, which I strongly 
deprecate, and which the tendency of this address Is calculated to obviate. 
For can burthens be borne for ever, and the slave crouch and cringe the 
while. Is misery and vice so consonant to man's nature, that he will hug 

Note. The excellence of the Constitution of Great Britain, appears 
to me, to be its indefiniteness and versatility, whereby it may be unresist- 
ingly accommodated to the progression of wisdom and virtue. Such accom- 
modation I desire j but I wish for the cause before the effect. 


it to his heart ? — but when the wretched one in bondage, beholds the 
emancipator near, will he not endure his misery awhile with hope and 
patience, then, spring to his preserver's arms, and start into a man. 

It is my intention to observe the effect on your minds, O Irishmen ! 
which this address dictated by the fervency of my love, and hope will 
produce. I have come to this country to spare no, pains where expenditure 
may purchase your real benefit. The present is a crisis, which of all 
others, is the most valuable for fixing the fluctuation of public feeling j 
as far as my poor efforts may have succeeded in fixing it to virtue, 
Irishmen, so far shall I esteem myself happy. I intend this address as 
introductory to another. The organization of a society, whose institution 
V I shall serve as a bond to its members, for the purposes of virtue, happiness, 
liberty, and wisdom, by the means of intellectual opposition to grievances, 
would probably be useful. For the formation of such a society, I avow 
myself anxious. 

Adieu, my friends ! May every Sun that shines on your green Island 
see the annihilation of an abuse, and the birth of an Embryon of me- 
lioration ! Your own hearts — may they become the shrines of purity and 
freedom, and never may smoke to the Mammon of unrighteousness, 
ascend from the unpolluted altar of their devotion • 

No, 7, Loiver Sack'ville-street. Feb. 22. 


I have now been a week in Dublin, during which time I have endeavoured 
to make myself more accurately acquainted with the state of the public 
mind, on those great topics of grievances which induced me to select 
Ireland as a theatre, the widest and fairest, for the operations of the 
determined friend of religious and political freedom. 

The result of my observations has determined me to propose, an asso- 
ciation for the purposes of restoring Ireland to the prosperity which she 
/possessed before the Union Act j and the religious freedom, which the 
involuntariness of faith, ought to have taught all monopolists of Heaven, 
long, long ago, that every one had a right to possess. 

For the purpose of obtaining the Emancipation of the Catholics, from 
the penal laws that aggrieve them, and a Repeal of the Legislative Union act : 
and grounding upon the remission of the church-craft and oppression, which 
caused these grievances ; a flan of amendment and regeneration in the moral 
and -political state of society, on a comprehensi<ve and systematic philanthrophy, 
nvhich shall be sure, though slonv in its projects j and as it is ^without the 
rapidity and danger of resolution , so ivill it be de<void of the time-sernjingness 
of temporizing reform — which in its deliberative capacity, having investigated 
the state of the government of England, shall oppose those parts of it, by 
intellectual force, which will not bear the touch-stone of reason. 

For information respecting the principles which I possess, and the nature 
and spirit of the association which I propose, I refer the reader to a small 
pamphlet, which I shall publish on the subject, in the course of a few 

I have published the above address (written in England) in the cheapest 
possible form, and have taken pains that the remarks which it contains, should 
be intelligible to the most uneducated minds. Men are not slaves and 
brutes, because they are poor : it has been the policy of the thoughtless, 
or wicked of the higher ranks, (as a proof of the decay, of which policy, 
I am happy to see the rapid success of a comparatively enlightened system 
of education,) to conceal from the poor the truths which I have en- 
deavoured to teach them. In doing so, I have but translated my thoughts 
into another language } and as language is only useful as it communicates 
ideas, I shall think my style so far good, as it Is successful as a means to 
to bring about the end which I desire, on any occasion, to accomplish. 


A Limerick Paper, which I suppose, professes to support certain loyal 
and John Bullish principles of freedom — has, in an essay for advocating 
the Liberty of the Press, the following clause : " For lawless license of 
discussion never did we advocate, nor do we now." — What is lawless license 
of discussion ? Is it not as indefinite as the words, contumely, reproach, 
defamation, that allow at present, such latitude to the outrages that are 
committed on the free expression of individual sentiment. Can they not 
see that what is rational will stand by its reason, and what is true stand 
by its truth, as all that is foolish will fall by its folly, and all that is false 
be controverted by its own falsehood. — Liberty gains nothing by the 
reform of politicians of this stamp, any more than it gains from a change 
of Ministers in London. What at present, is contumely and defama- 
tion, would at the period of this Limerick amendment, be "lawless 
license of discussion ; " and such would be the mighty advantage, which 
this doughty champion of liberty proposes to effect. 

I conclude, with the words of Lafayette — a name endeared, by its 
peerless bearer, to every lover of the human race. ** For a nation to love 
Liberty it is sufficient that she knows it, to be free it is sufficient that she 
wills it. 


Reprinted bv Richard Clay & Sons, Bread Street Hili, 
October, i8go. 






*»-* «. * ■•*. 



*• .•* 



Will Members 
the Honorary 

note that the Address A 

' ts nozu 

52 x^sHLEY Road, 

Crouch Hill, 

London, N. 

A co7isiderable nurjco-.r oj ^iio^c /-^A/iu/i^ ' r \tii 
in arrear, and the Hon. Sec. z:- 021 1 J be obliged. A 
Members who have not ..y paui tiicir Giiinea\ 
zooiUd kindly forward :hem at their earlieA 
possible convenience, in order that the Committe\ 
-may decide upon their printing progra^nme fo', 
the coining Session — 1 890-1 891. 


OCTOBKR -Ith, 1890.